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Ten reasons to give thanks for Pope Benedict XVI

Benedict XVI has left the Church with a rich body of teaching and a shining example in humility and steadfastness

By on Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Pope Benedict XVI will leave the papal seat empty on February 28 (Photo: CNS)

Pope Benedict XVI will leave the papal seat empty on February 28 (Photo: CNS)

The pontificate of Benedict XVI was full of surprises and on Monday he sprang the greatest one of all. His abdication – the first for almost 600 years – caught even the Vatican unawares. As we struggle to absorb the news, here are 10 reasons to give thanks for his papacy.

His steadfastness: In his inaugural homily Pope Benedict said: “Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves.” In 2010 there was a concerted media effort to force his resignation under the cover of the clerical abuse crisis. He held firm and it is only now, in a rare tranquil moment of his papacy, that he has chosen to resign.

His crystal-clear teaching: Even in his abdication Pope Benedict was teaching us. His lesson – that none of us should cling to power – was conveyed with characteristic force and clarity. He has left us with a rich body of teaching, contained not only within his homilies, encyclical and trilogy of books on Jesus, but also in his actions.

His reform of the liturgy: Pope Benedict’s decision to lift restrictions on the older form of the Mass was historic. As well as rescuing the Extraordinary Form from oblivion, he has renewed the celebration of the Ordinary Form of the Mass in our parishes through the new English translation.

His programme of purification: From the Legionaries of Christ to Vatican finances, Benedict XVI has attempted to purify the Church of corruption. This concerted effort has barely registered in the media, but the Church will benefit from it for years to come.

His outreach to Islam: Pope Benedict did not shrink when his Regensburg lecture was violently misunderstood in parts of the Islamic world. While apologising for unintended offence, he stood by his address, which called for an alliance between Catholics and Muslims in our secular age. As a result, Catholic-Islamic dialogue is arguably stronger today than it has ever been. This is a vital achievement on which his successor can build.

His bravery: When Benedict XVI visited Turkey, at a time of intense Islamic anger after the Regensburg address, he refused to wear a bulletproof vest. His abdication showed an equally courageous trust in Providence.

His love of Britain: Benedict XVI felt a special affection for Britain. That is why he visited us in 2010, when so many other nations were tugging at the papal sleeve. He defended conscience in Westminster Hall as eloquently as St Thomas More, broke his own rule to beatify Cardinal John Henry Newman and strengthened our resolve to resist aggressive secularism.

His creation of the ordinariate: The ordinariate for groups of former Anglicans is one of Benedict XVI’s greatest legacies. It is remarkable that he was able to create this new structure, bringing thousands of souls into full communion, without irreparably harming relations between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.

His balance: Pope Benedict was, at first, caricatured as an “arch-conservative”. But it soon became clear that he had a daring and supple mind that confounded crude labels. In an age of unbalanced thinking, his thought stood out for its harmony and integrity. With his notion of “the hermeneutic of continuity” he reconciled fidelity to tradition with the creativity needed to meet the challenges of our time.

His humility: Even within the Church it is hard for men to renounce power and status. Pope Benedict has shown remarkable humility in sacrificing his own papal ministry for what he believes is the greater good of the Church. Let’s pray for him, and for his successor, as we have never prayed before.

  • Maryhalliwell

    He taught by example.  A gentle but firm,holy man who may not be fully appreciated until he’s left office.  I pray he has a happy and peaceful retirement.

  • teigitur

    Well written, and I am sure there are many more besides. I just wish the Bishops here in Scotland had taken more notice,  indeed any notice,of his views on the Traditional Roman Rite.

  • Jlagrue

    Good points generally, except for “renewing the liturgy” where every indication is that the latest translation is doing the very opposite and driving people away from prayer.

  • scary goat

    Thank God for Pope Benedict XVI.  Please God can we now have Pope Benedict XVII ?

  • spudbynight

    Surely the wilful disobedience of many priests is a factor in that?

  • Guillermo

    Thank you for this ten reasons. We, in Latin America have also lots of reasons to thank God for this extraordinary man. However, I feel that most of the catholics ignores the importance of this pope. 

  • Kentigern (or Mungo)

    Only ten? I’m assuming you simply ran out of space.

  • athelstane

    Unlike the previous translation, which was so insipid and banal at points that it did not drive people to do much of anything.

  • Mcarroll3

    This list is absolutely true to how it was. 

    We must thank God for his witness of defending the faith.

    I agree with the person who commented ‘Can we now have Pope Benedict XVII’There is also a list of ’10 Amazing Things that Happened in Britain During the Benedict Era’….

  • Charles Martel

    Thank you, Holy Father, for your bravery in issuing ‘Summorum Pontificum’ and for annulling the excommunications of the bishops of the Society of St Pius X. I think an abdication cannot have any good effect on the Church, but it’s done now, and I beg you all to pray for the election of Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke….Leo XIV.

  • Mikethelionheart

    The new translation is far superior from the old.

    Thank you Pope Benedict.



  • Patrickhowes

    Above all for his competence in dealing with the all the above and bringing dignity back to the Church.I thought it ironic yesterday when he finished his resignation speech that Angelo Sodano embraced Him and so should he.He owes and we The Holy Father a great debt of gratitude for having cleaned up many of the corrupt messes that Cardinal Sodano created!

  • Cjkeeffe

    One good reason to love Pope Bendict XVI he is teh succesor of Peter and shepherd of the flock of Christ, he feed the sheep and safeguarded our souls. Thank you Holy Father.

  • Fr. Thomas Poovathinkal

    POPE BENEDICT XVI was great in many things he did, including how firmly he dealt with Priestly immorality of pedophilia. (Of course it would have been still better if he had covered the whole spectrum of  sexual depravity in the life people who have taken up Priesthood as a profession.)

    Noteworthy are this Pope’s love for Truth, and indomitable courage. It looks he has cared  and provided for everyone’s needs – young and old and not so old.

    I thank God for the great things He has accomplished through this Great and courageous Pope. …..
    and yet it saddens me beyond words to think of Jesus the Lord ever even trying to run away from his Cross without culminating it with His sacrificial death; or for that matter even St.Peter….

    Popes remaining on the cross of Christ the Lord until the very last breath is a great and glorious help for the people of God to cling to the Royal way of The Lord’s Cross (MARTYRDOM?) and thus bring SALVATION of CHRIST THE LORD to each and everyone in this world.

    The office of the REPRESENTATIVE of CHRIST THE LORD  on EARTH is unique unlike the offices of the others whoever they are.


  • Luisa Navarro

    Long may he live and bless us with his prayers and brilliant mind.

  • Rexie

    I’m heartbroken that our wonderful Pope Benedict XVI is to leave the Chair of Peter. He knew how to Pope, that’s for sure. I’ll never forget Cofton Park as long as I live. A great pope and an exemplary priest and pastor!

    Thank you, Holy Father, and a billion times THANK YOU and GOD BLESS YOU AS MANY TIMES!

  • scary goat

     I feel soooooooooo sad that he is leaving…..but I don’t think we should blame.  I am sure he is doing what he thinks is best for the Church.  The challenges facing the 21st century Church are great and I think Pope Benedict wanted to hand it over to someone stronger. It’s not like he’s running off on holiday somewhere….he is still here supporting us with his prayers and I hope his writings too.  Maybe he felt that with the challenges ahead he would not be able to cope in failing health.  He deserves all our love and respect and support.  He has been a wonderful pope in difficult times.

  • Charles Martel

     Yes, Cardinal Sodano symbolizes everything that is wrong with the Vatican. When are we going to see that place cleaned up?

  • Michele

    Thank You Dear Holy Father, you have made a brave decision, and we love you all the more for that! God Bless You, enjoy peace and better health for your retirement x

  • Scholar242

    Agreed on all of the above.
    You may include:-His honesty? He honestly faced up to the situation and said that his health was not up to the job?
    His hardworking nature – Sermons for Christmas, Easter are prepared and available (though embargoed) long before they are due. There is no last minute rush. Everything is done in an analytical and methodical way as befitting a German Pope
    His great love of Jesus Christ. Look at his books on Jesus Christ? Most people would do one book and leave it at that. I believe he wrote a trilogy on the same subject.. This shows his deep love of his subject. It is just such an individual who we shouldbe proud to have as our Pope.

    Many unfinished business:-
    1. Reconciliation with the Russian church
    2. Combining the underground and overground church in China
    3. Reconciliation with the Lutherans. He was very keen to rehabilitate Luther, a fellow German. Something or some group must have stopped him.

    From his signature one can denote some shakiness in his handwriting. His handwriting has changed (worsened) remarkably over the years…. But from his books one can still feel a mentally alert person so I was surprised by the words in the statement about “deterioration in mind and body”. In the end could “the wolves”  have driven him away? Or is another sexual scandal about to break where he is personally culpable? Wait and see?

  • Fr. Thomas Poovathinkal

    “I think an abdication cannot have any good effect on the Church, but
    it’s done now, and I beg you all to pray for the election of Raymond Leo
    Cardinal Burke….Leo XIV.”  – Charles Martel

    ABDICATION INDEED IS  A SAD STEP, IN TRUTH A VERY SAD STEP. It is like CHRIST THE LORD  in a person of this UNIQUE office running away from THE FINAL AND GLORIOUS CULMINATION OF CRUCIFIXION, DEATH AND RESURRECTION. May be it is connected with the PROBLEM of  INTELLECTUALISM leading the CHURCH taking her by the nose.

    THE REPRESENTATIVE OF CHRIST THE LORD ON EARTH, remaining on the Lord’s cross until the very last breath is the most beautiful inspiration for the FAITHFUL to follow the LORD and DO HIS HOLY WILL.

    Look at the most exemplary Pope of Modern times : POPE JOHN PAUL II ! He remained hanging on the cross of the Lord until the very last moment.LET EVERY ONE WHO IS GOING TO BE IN THIS UNIQUE, GODLY OFFICE  OF JESUS THE LORD TAKE NOTE AND BE  PREPARED TO BE WORTHY OF THE LORD HIMSELF.

    Let us all PRAY….

    You plead for someone here; is he of divided mind-set like “Conservative versus Progressive” etc.? Is he a person who is in touch with ground realities by being with and for the people? The People make the Church; priests are made for their sake. A man of divided mind-set can only divide and rule, the same old rule of most of POWER HUNGRY man-kind. Can such people unite people with Christ the Lord? or can such a person unite all divided Christian Churches? Does he have the mind of Christ? IS HIS UNIVERSE CENTERED ON JESUS THE LORD?

    The one who represents Christ the Lord on earth should have  THE LORD HIMSELF as his first love. The LORD HIMSELF kept on promoting APOSTLESHIP  even after his resurrection. (Priesthood  in CHRIST THE LORD is  included in APOSTLESHIP but APOSTLESHIP is not included in Priesthood, which is also found in pagan religions; INSTITUTIONALISATION OF THE CHURCH OF THE LORD BROUGHT ABOUT THIS ABERRATION of giving precedence to Priesthood over APOSTLESHIP. As a consequence THE CHURCH in some way is getting fossilised and dying: Look at Europe for instance! And the  Lord has allowed THE ENEMY NO. ONE by way of chastisement  to eat up the Church, TO CARRY AWAY ITS YOUNG WOMEN FOLK and more…

    When one’s guide is the light of  one’s own intelligence (intellectualism!) and not the SPIRIT OF JESUS THE LORD what else could one expect to happen? THE LORD HIMSELF had said, “If the light in you is your darkness…..”. Human intelligence in itself is not a saved reality to lead us to salvation apart from CHRIST THE LORD.



    Replacing THE WORD OF GOD with mere human thinking and tradition has done away with CHRIST THE LORD for over two thousand years. His enemies among the Jews killed Him but once, but then those who owned Him as their own Lord and Savior but paid only lip-service to Him did away with Him  over and over again throughout these past centuries.

    THOSE, like the Pharisees, the Scribes and the rest of the combine, WHO have not themselves entered THE KINGDOM cannot and will not usher in the KINGDOM OF CHRIST THE LORD. THEY NEED TO REPENT AND BELIEVE IN THE GOOD NEWS AND THUS ENTER THE KINGDOM FIRST. Then and only then, can they become THE LORD’S TRUE APOSTLES.

    THE LORD has very clearly said that only by the FRUIT we produce we can prove to be his TRUE DISCIPLES.


    The Moment they became THE TRUE APOSTLES OF THE LORD, the twelve started to rejoice to find themselves worthy of suffering on account of CHRIST THE LORD.

    Hence forward, Let each and every representatives of CHRIST THE LORD ON EARTH ever to be for ages to come  BE WILLING AND READY LIKE HIS TRUE APOSTLES………..


  • Patrickhowes

    Yes Cardinal Burke is a fine man.He saw through the Legion of Christ at once and is very trusted by the Pope.Cardinal Borgoglio from Argentina is also a fine man too!He got 40 votes in the last conclave,I am praying for a Pope from the Americas as the Church has weathered the storm especially in Latin America.It has survived Liberation theology,poverty and the CIA.People have not given up on God and the Church is still respected.Columbus took the faith from Europe to the Americas in 1492.Maybe it is time for the Americas to assist in re-evangelisation in Europe.We truly are in need of it!

  • Herman U. Ticke
  • thanks

    (oh dear, well I am reading this on Ash Wednesday)

    Audite Insulae: St Columba! Pray for us; St Andrew! Pray for us.

  • AlanP

    Benedict proved much better than I feared at his election.  In particular, he was prepared to listen, which I feel JPII was not.  On the negative side, he was a poor manager, and I feel he allowed himself to be manipulated by the Vatican old guard. 

  • Pete Petretich

    I hope that Joseph and Georg Ratzinger are are able to now enjoy some peaceful retirement time together.

    Thank you, Pope Benedict!

  • Scourby

     I agree with you, I am deeply saddened by his departure, but have a good feeling that maybe the next pope will be able to continue Benedict’s good work.

  • Eppechips1

    Thank you Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI for all the good you have bestowed upon us your children.